The OGM aka BLUEFACE from punk-rap group Ho99o9 (pronounced “horror”) leans into the crowd, plaid boxer briefs peeking out of his blue boxer’s shorts. A girl caresses his sweaty chest and licks his nipple. Eaddy, the other part of Ho99o9, is loading imaginary bullets into his microphone. He shoots into a reaching hand, a brain across the room, a woman’s open mouth.
I’m watching Ho99o9 perform at Airwaves. Or, rather, I’m watching Ho99o9 force the audience into performing with them at Airwaves. Their live show is the most high-stakes performance I’ve ever seen. I can only tell you there was a mosh-pit, the best stage dive I’ve witnessed in Iceland, and a beer shower in there. In between, a sweaty blur.
Nine hours and twenty minutes before their NASA show commenced, the OGM aka BLUEFACE and Eaddy meet me for an interview, exactly at the agreed upon time. Five minutes later, we start walking down Laugavegur. As we step into an alley, OGM aka BLUEFACE instinctively sticks his arm out to make sure I notice an oncoming car. For all the extremes they take in their art, they’re surprisingly considerate, surprisingly subtle in person.
Despite a videographer present at the office, I opt for a recorded interview instead of a video one. The fact that I still can’t figure them out after our walk makes me way nervous. I regret this decision later when I finally understand how well these guys tell stories through their motions. For them, lyrics and words are part of a grander scheme to set the body free.
It’s hard to figure them out until I see their live show later that night, in which there’s a developed insanity to it all. They really get the audience, how to move so we move, how to make music that makes us move. No wonder they have a cult following. No wonder everyone in the room can’t help but join it.
Eaddy and the OGM aka BLUEFACE are artists in every sense of the word, unafraid spiritual tour guides of a fucked-up, torrential world. Here’s what they had to say.
Photo by by Markus Moises
How did you come up with the name Ho99o9?
OGM aka BLUEFACE: The first song we have, ‘Bone Collector’, the guy that we worked with on it, he was this young kid, Frankie. He goes by Oral Culture, he was the producer for that. Originally the instrumental itself was called ‘horror’, but we started off as a different name, but we Googled that and other bands came up.
Eaddy: It was mainly some huge upcoming pop-punk band.
O: And we didn’t want to be associated with that because our music is totally different. So it was just like ‘How do we find a name?’ And that song was beginning to get popular, when we were playing our songs that would stick out to everybody. So we were just like ‘horror, horror’ beating our heads and one day he (Eaddy) just came up with the whole idea of like flipping the 6s into 9s, you know. And it just worked. It was great. It was like ‘oh, shit, we got it’. And we Googled that shit and nobody was using it. It was the one.
To backtrack a little, how did you guys start making music together?
O: It was so weird. We were friends years before this. I’ve always been into music. I always rapped. But the style of music I was making at the time was a lot different. More like hip-hop and the usual shit. You know, talking about girls and money and blah blah blah.
E: Bitches and money.
O: He (Eaddy) got real heavy into punk rock music and shit like that so we started going to a lot of shows and he was just like the wild dude. He never did music, but he would go to shows and he would be the first motherfucker jumping into people. Like tossing shit. Just wow.
You’re the one who starts moshpits at concerts.
O: Yeah, like wild child. But he’s also a dope illustrator, so anything you see like our flyers, our T-shirts, our mixtape covers, he does all the artwork for that. So we originally wanted to work on a project, I was going to do the music and he was going to do the artwork for it, so it turned from that to ‘oh, maybe you should write a couple lines on a song and see what it sounds like’. And then it turned from that to ‘oh, that actually sounds kinda cool’. ‘Yo, write a couple more, write a couple more’. And then it just started happening like that. And even then, we weren’t really taking it serious, like having fun with it.
It sounds like you guys were sort of just messing around at first. When did Ho99o9 become really serious?
O: I think we started taking it seriously once we changed the name. We took it seriously before that, but I think once we changed the name… and then we started having to rehearse. When we started, we didn’t start off with a drummer, so these things, it was just us two and we would do like rappers would do – just give a track to a DJ and the DJ would play it. So that shit just got out of hand, it was annoying, like, coming and trying to get a DJ to play. We didn’t want to do that, it was just in the way. I think once we decided we needed a drummer and changed the name, that’s when it hit.
E: When we needed a website…
O: Yeah, when we needed a website. These are the things that make you take it seriously. Like, okay, band. Okay, drummer. Oh shit, we’re taking it seriously now. Right. Cool. As soon as we got the website…
E: And we needed an Instagram….
O: I was hype. Like the first post… the first like… [pumps arm]
The music you were making at first, do you feel like it’s different from the music you’re making now?
E: We’ve progressed, you know? Different sounds, different inspirations. You know it’s just like evolution
O: As an artist you actually grow. Or you want to grow.
You’re touching on a lot of different genres, but the main ones are punk and rap, right? If there’s a spectrum with ‘punk’ on one side and ‘rap’ on the other, do you think you’ve moved one way or another on that spectrum over time?
E: No, that shit is dead in the middle.
O: We are always gonna be this [punk and rap], because that’s what we come from. That’s our core.
E: It’s like putting your finger in a cake, just right in the middle. Like ‘Fuck, you couldn’t put it anywhere else’ [mimes sticking his finger in a cake]. I never rapped until that track we talked about. I never wrote a rhyme, so I don’t know how to sound like anyone else but me.
Photos by Mike Riley
Did it come pretty naturally to you?
O: Honestly, I was like, “that shit sounds kinda cool,” so I was definitely getting him hyped up.
E: Now the more I write, the more I’m like “hmmmmmm…” [smiles and nods].
O: I feel like, naturally, he was a performer. Naturally. Like onstage, he’s already knows the moves, or whatever. It was just a matter of getting the rhymes together.
E: I’ve always been into music. Since I was young. When I was young, if I was into an artist, I had the whole discography. I knew every song. Knew every band. So it was just natural.
But you saw yourself mostly as an observer of music.
E: I always had in my head, ‘I wish I was onstage. I know what I would do if I was in front of thousands of people’. But now I am. And now I’m just like owning that shit.
[We all nod, because it’s true.]
And your live performances are sick. I’ve only seen videos…
O: Then I hope you come tonight. You see it on video, and you’re like this shit looks crazy, but when you see it live, you’re like, “oh fuck! They got it!” It’s all about the energy. And expressing yourself. We believe in those strongly.
How do you go about preparing a performance? Is there any degree of choreography? …well, not choreography… [I try to backtrack, ‘choreography’ is the wrong word for what they do]
E: Like nothing.
O: Obviously, we rehearse as a band. But that’s just for stamina and for making sure that we learn certain new songs. We just dropped a mixtape (‘Dead Bodies in the Lake‘), so if there’s a new song we would like to perform, we practice it a lot. Keep it sharp, but other than that, we don’t really plan anything. The only thing I plan, maybe, is like my costume, my look. Because I love alter egos and characters and shit [we see this later that night at Ho99o9’s show, as OGM aka BLUEFACE glides onstage in a white wedding dress, his hair spilling out of a blue full-face-covering mask. This is the only time during the night when his posture is demure, perfectly befitting a demon bride]. Besides that, we just go onstage and just let it all out.
E: We go off reactions, energy…
O: How it makes us feel when we go onstage, the stage, the lights, like all that shit.
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I’m sure stamina is a huge part of the practicing.
E: Yeah, cause our whole set is like [smacks one hand on the other several times] that. So you definitely gotta have some good energy.
I watched one song and I could only think ‘holy…’
O: Imagine that for like 45 minutes… Like that same energy… it’s like, ‘Shit, I need a break’.
E: Beats going to the gym. That’s my gym workout right there.
What do you guys do when you’re watching shows, since you get so into your own performances onstage? I was trying to picture what you guys would be like as observers.
O: It depends on the music. If it’s good music, I’m definitely dancing. Music just naturally makes you want to move. It just has to be a good show, a good party. You’d have to see me. It can be like day and night. I’ll be pulling moves that I don’t do onstage.
I also wanted to talk about the art show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles earlier this year.
O: I can’t even explain how dope it was. It felt weird playing in a museum. I’d always wanted to do that. And we’d played at the museum for a book fair a few months back, but it was outdoors. And it was for a book fair. You know, but this one, it was like MOCA, it was legit. MOCA, inside there. It was quite an experience.
What did it look like? Did it have the white walled, all museum-y feel?
E: Yep. They even took all the pictures down. It was basically all white.
O: They had this huge screen behind us, like a really tall, kind of a Kanye West-type screen. As soon as I walked in, I was like, “For us? Yes! I want this and this on that.”
I’m jealous you guys got to yell in a museum. I’ve always wanted to do that.
O: There was even a mosh pit in the museum. Someone had their nose bloody from a pit in the museum. You know how crazy that is? The director of the museum came up to us, because it was part of a picture project that I’ve been working on for awhile, called ‘Horror Memoirs’. It’s based around the color blue. Blue’s my favorite color. So everything is like blue. And the director, he purchased the book before he knew who we were because he really enjoyed the photos. But then he came up to us in the back, he was like ‘We never had a mosh pit in this museum before. I guess it was time’. It was awesome. He felt really good about it. So it made me even more hype about it. I mean, what other museums can we crush on now?
It’s performance art in the truest sense of the term.
E: That’s what it was. To the core.
O: I’m trying to perform at a few more museums. So put that word out there. We’re working on that. We have some pieces we can put together.
[Officially putting the word out there. Museums, let them put their pieces together, plz]
What are you guys working on now? Any upcoming projects?
E: We might have some tricks up our sleeve, a few razzle dazzles.
O: Right now we’re having fun, we’re on tour. We just dropped this mixtape and we’re flowing it. Excited about these shows, you know, we’re going to a lot of places we haven’t been yet.
You guys were just in Europe, right?
O: Yeah, we were there a couple months ago. We were there for three weeks. This is gonna be the longest tour though, the one we’re on now. This is the start of it, actually. It’s our fall tour and this is our first stop. We’re going until mid-December. We’re going to France on Sunday, we have a show there in Lille. But it’s sold out, so I’m excited. They’re ready for us.
What shows have you been to so far (at Airwaves)?
O: We remember this one group at NASA. It was like a group of girls, rappers.
O: Yeah. We’d never seen that many like rap girls on stage, in a group like that. Never seen that before. It was cool. It had me in awe. I couldn’t believe it, because back home you would never see that many girls stick together.
E: It was mesmerizing. Like an art project. Like fucking Wu-Tang on stage.
O: And there were so many different personalities. Some were wild and some were like more subdued. And then we saw the dude after…
O: Yeah, everybody we’ve seen here have been rappers. Rap is like a thing here, and I think that’s tight. Even in bars and certain places I was going to were playing like Drake and Young Thug and Future and shit like that.
Any good Reykjavík stories?
O: When we first got here, our bags didn’t come. We had seven bags between the three of us, seven. All our clothes, all our equipment. Everything. Not even one bag came through. We were a little miserable for a day, but they came the next morning.
E: Somebody fucked up.
O: Yeah, so first day in Iceland, and we don’t have our bags. At first, I was bummed and I wasn’t gonna go out, but then I still went out. I got pretty drunk that night.
What do you think of the nightlife here?
O: They drink here. I’m a lightweight. I drink like a little bit, but I’ll have two beers and be like [sits back with tongue lolling to the side of his mouth]. I’m about that green life though. I’m pro-green.
Any last comments on Iceland?
O: I will say this about Iceland. Most expensive weed in the world. It’s definitely good. But like an eighth, which is three and a half grams back in LA, that’s between thirty and thirty-five bucks. Here, shit’s like ninety dollars.
As the interview finishes, I open Instagram to show them a photo our editor has posted of me standing next to them. Eaddy leans over my shoulder, double taps the screen and a heart appears.
Though the heart looks neat and clean in front of the photo, I know it’s thrashing in some other dimension’s mosh pit. It just has to be.
Posted November 7, 2015